The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 23 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Chapter 23 of 'The Grapes of Wrath' gives us an idea of what the migrants do for entertainment. If you've been following along in the book, you'll remember that they don't have much money. Read on to find out how they got their kicks on a small budget.


If you have ever been really stressed out about an exam or about personal problems, you may have found yourself constantly looking for a distraction. Maybe you end up streaming movies, listening to music or chatting with friends. If this make sense to you, then you will be able to relate to what goes on in Chapter 23 of The Grapes of Wrath.


The migrants are always looking for some pleasure to balance out how hard they work. One of the refuges from the difficulties of life is story-telling. People who can tell stories are greatly appreciated at the squatter's camps.

The narrator retells one story from the perspective an invader fighting against the Native Americans. The story is about how the soldiers came upon an Native American standing on the top of a hill, naked except for headband and feather. His arms were stretched open like he was on cross. The soldiers could not shoot him, but they finally did when their captain yelled at them. The Native American falls and tumbles down the hill towards the soldiers. When they see him, they realize it is just a kid. The storyteller says when you see something like that you realize you ''spoiled somepin in yaself, an' you can't never fix it up.'' In other words, they destroyed something beautiful and there is no way to make it right again.


Another way that the migrants find entertainment is with movies. Since most people can not afford them, if one person goes to see a movie, they come back and retell the story to those who want to hear about it. The narrator uses a specific example of a man who sees a movie about two people who are both pretending to poor. The squatters cannot imagine why anyone would pretend to be poor, but they listen anyway because they need the distraction and entertainment.


Drinking is another way that they entertain and distract themselves. When they drink, ''Failure dulled and the future was no threat'' and ''the world was soft and easy, and a man could reach the place he started for.'' In other words, drinking is very appealing as a way to escape the failure and the worry about the future.

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